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Find The Best Labor Law Attorney for Wrongful Termination

Updated: Apr 26

Why Work With A Pre-Screened Employment Lawyer for a Claim of Wrongful Termination

When an employer fires or terminates an employee for reasons other than competence or job ability, this is known as Wrongful Termination. This suggests that the employer discriminated against the employee in some way and decided to fire them as a result. This means that an employer can conclude that you aren't putting in enough work or aren't fully committed to your job, but they can't fire you because of prejudice.

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Wrongful Termination regulations were enacted to protect workers from unfair or illegal dismissal practices. When you seek legal counsel because you think you were wrongfully dismissed, these employment laws are on your side. However, arguing that you were fired for an unjust cause can be difficult, which is why you should hire an experienced Labor Law Attorney.

What Does Wrongful Termination Entail?

In a nutshell, Wrongful Termination is described as being fired from your job for an illegal cause.

Here are a few cases of Wrongful Termination:

1. Discrimination

Unfair firing occurs when an employee is threatened or discriminated against and reports it to the employer, who then fires the employee.

Employees in California are shielded from discrimination under both state and federal law. The Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and the New Parent Leave Act are among these statutes (NPLA).

Types of Workplace Discrimination

All workers should be classified fairly or paid solely on the basis of merit and achievement. There are also regulations in place to prevent discrimination against workers based on protected characteristics. Unfortunately, this is often insufficient to ensure a secure working atmosphere. An Employment Lawyer may be able to assist you in seeking restitution if you are unable to fulfill your job duties as a result of the prejudice you have experienced.

Discrimination is prohibited on the grounds of the following categories:

2. Retaliation for contesting a pay or overtime dispute

Wage conflicts can also lead to an employee being fired without cause. This suggests that an employee complained about their salaries not being paid, and the employer fired the employee for doing so.

When it comes to wage and hour breaches, California has some of the best legal rights. Wage and hour violations refer to situations in which an employer fails to compensate or underpays their workers.

The following are some of the more famous wage and hour violations:

  • Employees being misclassified as excluded or nonexempt.

  • Employees are classified as independent contractors rather than employees.

  • Employees not being compensated for all overtime hours worked and/or being forced to work "off the clock" without pay

  • Taking away workers' constitutionally required meal and/or rest breaks.

A nonexempt employee that's 18 years old or older cannot be hired or employed for more than a total of eight hours in one workday or for more than forty hours in a workweek in the state of California unless that employee resigns. This also applies to a minor employee who is 16 or 17 years of age and is not required to attend school and/or is not prohibited by law from participating in the subject work.

Breaks for meals and rest

If they work for at least five hours in a day, the majority of California workers — including most excluded employees — are entitled to one (1) 30-minute meal break. Employees who work more than ten hours a day are entitled to a second meal break. (512 of the Labor Code)

If an employee works fewer than six hours a day, he or she will opt out of taking a meal break. In addition, an employee can waive a second meal break only if he or she works fewer than twelve hours in a day and if his or her first meal break has not been waived. (512 of the Labor Code)

During a meal break, an employee must be relieved of his or her job duties and be able to leave the workplace. If an employee's employer wants them to stay on the premises throughout their meal break, they must be compensated. (California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 11050)

If an employer fails to offer a meal break, the employee is entitled to one additional hour of pay at the normal rate. If the employer does not have a meal break, an employee is only permitted to work an additional hour per day. (California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 11050)

Finally, California employers are required to have a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. The rest time should be given in the middle of the work period, if possible.

Wage Theft

Wage theft occurs more often when workers are not paid minimum wage or are not paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek.

Wage theft can also take the form of:

  • An employee is not paid at all.

  • After quitting a job, not paying an employee their last paycheck.

  • Not being compensated for all hours worked.

  • Pay less than the minimum wage.

  • Overtime is not compensated.

Non-union workplaces are more likely to experience wage theft. This is because a union worker is paid according to the terms of his or her collective bargaining agreement, and any cases of wage theft are automatically challenged by the union. Janitorial services, agriculture, restaurants, poultry processing, garment manufacturing, and retail are all places where wage theft has been recorded.

Who should I contact if I suspect wage theft?

Before taking any action, make sure to consult with your boss. Request an explanation from your boss. This will help you decide if your earnings were diminished or missed due to a distribution error or even a bank error, rather than whether your employer simply refused to pay you.

If a clerical error occurred, the employer should willingly consent to pay any costs you incurred as a result of their error. Engaging in conversation also has the added advantage of demonstrating that you didn't forget to apply your timesheets.

However, if there is a trend of not being paid on time or in full, or if it seems that you have been underpaid on purpose, you can contact the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor (WHD). Many of the nation's most relevant job safety regulations are administered and enforced by this department. An Labor Law Attorney can assist you through this process.

3. Retaliation for refusing a sexual harassment

If an employer makes sexual advances to an employee and the employee refuses, the employer can fire the employee. This is an unconstitutional act of wrongful firing, and the employee will be entitled to seek legal recourse.

Have you been subjected to unwelcome advances by a coworker? Perhaps a coworker or boss has been sending you offensive emails or making remarks that make you feel uneasy. Sexual harassment at work, regardless of the circumstances, is not only unethical but also illegal.

Sexual assault is a delicate subject that can impair your ability to function and make it difficult to speak up when you are uncomfortable. An individual may commit acts of sexual harassment in the workplace in a variety of ways.

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Sexual harassment can take the form of:

  • Inappropriate remark

  • Requesting sexual favors or making a quid pro quo deal

  • Attack on a woman

  • Sexual remark

  • Innuendos of a sexual nature

  • Jokes about one's body that are sexual in nature

  • Remarks that are sexist

  • Displaying pornographic material

  • Unwanted physical contacts, such as massages on the neck or shoulders

  • Staring or glancing at one's body in an uneasy manner

  • Inquiring about a person's sexual orientation

  • Even after being refused, repeatedly asking someone out on dates

  • Disseminating sexual gossip about a coworker

Presenting a Sexual Harassment Claim

You could be entitled to file a complaint against your employer if you were subjected to repeated and unwelcome sexual advances or comments that produced a hostile work atmosphere. You must also file a lawsuit with the relevant government department.

Making a Claim Against Your Employer. If you've been sexually assaulted at work by a coworker, supervisor, company agent, or someone else, keep track of the dates and file a report with your boss. When you file charges, keeping track of the specifics of the harassment will help with the investigation.

Bringing a Charge to the Attention of the Appropriate Agency. You should file a Discrimination Claim with either the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (FEHA) before pursuing a complaint against your employer (DFEH). The laws regulating your case will determine which entity you can file a charge with. In certain cases, submitting with one agency would automatically send your charge to the other. Your Labor Law Attorney may assist you in determining which laws apply to your case and which entity to file a charge with.

Receiving a Notice of Right to Sue. The organization will conduct an investigation and review all relevant details about your situation after receiving your bill. When the investigation is over, the department will give you a notice of your right to sue.

Before an investigation closes out, you may request the documentation. Only if the EEOC suspects it will not be able to close your case within the allotted timeline will it give it to you. Once your request is received, the DFEH will give it to you. Your case will not be heard if you want to file a complaint before getting the notice. You will make a lawsuit against your employer once you receive your right to sue notice.

When is Your Employer Liable of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

The role of the harasser in the business or workplace, as well as the type of abuse you encountered, determine if the employer may be held legally liable for sexual harassment.

Your employer may or may not be responsible if any of the following situations related to your sexual assault claim:

  • Your employer is directly responsible for their personal actions if they directly committed sexual assault.

  • Immediate supervisors: For sexual assault committed by immediate supervisors, the employer is solely responsible. If you report sexual harassment by a boss or manager to your employer, they are obligated to take action.

  • Coworkers and/or customers: Whether the harasser is or was a coworker, client, or anyone you did not report(ed), the employer is unlikely to be held responsible because these people are not acting on behalf of the employer and have no clear control over you.

  • Quid pro quo abuse is strictly prohibited, even though it occurs only once. When an employer or boss offers a kickback, perk, or other opportunities in return for sexual behavior, and the victim declines, the victim faces a negative outcome, such as being shot. Supervisors are easier to train and track because there are fewer supervisors than workers.

  • Hostile work environment: If the employer is aware of a hostile work environment that has harmed you, they may be held responsible for their negligence if they do nothing.

4. Punishment for refusing to engage in criminal activity

If you find unlawful or unethical behavior at work, you can be unsure how to report it to the appropriate authorities. Blowing the whistle refers to the act of exposing corruption within your business. Whistleblowers are highly respected by the government and authorities; however, you can face unlawful retaliation at work, such as unfair firing or discrimination in other ways, if you do so.

There are a variety of unlawful or improper activities that may occur in the workplace. The first step is to identify the appropriate agency or organization to which you should report the behavior you have observed. For instance, if you work for a hospital that has been committing healthcare fraud, the government is really interested in knowing about it. An Employment Lawyer will assist you if you have been mistreated as a result of disclosing or threatening to report criminal activity.

Listed below are a few examples of protected activities:

  • Participating in an investigation or testifying as a witness

  • Refusing to engage in criminal behavior

  • Reporting fraud, occupational injuries, or other unethical behavior

  • Threatening to disclose fraud, occupational injuries, or other unethical behavior

5. Retaliation Protections When Reporting Workplace Safety Violations

Both the federal and state governments have enacted legislation to protect workers in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal agency in charge of workplace safety (OSHA). In California, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health is under the Department of Industrial Relations (DOSH).

Cal/OSHA allows citizens to report safety breaches anonymously in order to protect employees and the general public from hazards. You may do this directly or through an Employment Lawyer, in which case the records can become part of a lawsuit.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who report safety violations under Labor Code Section 6310. OSHA can be contacted by any employee who has firsthand knowledge of safety regulations. The following are examples of safety breaches that may be reported:

  • Job activities that are unsafe, such as eliminating safety guards or devices

  • On a construction site, failure to meet OSHA regulations, such as open shafts and exposed work and perimeter surfaces, improper crane construction, lack of helmets, drinking on the job, and so on

  • Failure to provide protective equipment, such as hearing or respiratory protection, in an industrial or manufacturing setting

  • Failure to train workers, resulting in unsafe handling of hazardous materials or equipment

  • Where there have been threats of workplace abuse, failing to take precautions or protect workers

  • Failure to protect the public from lead or other toxic substances used on the job.

A Wrongful Termination is a Form of Workplace Retaliation

When your employer takes "adverse action" against you for something that is legally covered, this is known as retaliation. Retaliation may also occur when public policy is broken.

Your employer's conduct would be considered adverse by a court if:

  • The behavior was "tangible" enough to have an effect on a term or condition of employment for you.

  • You can prove that your covered conduct was the cause of the action.

  • Retaliation in the form of Wrongful Termination is a type of retaliation. However, revenge does not necessarily imply termination. Your boss can take retaliatory action against you in a variety of ways, some more subtle than others.

  • Workplace retaliation is all too normal. Retaliation complaints can result in expensive decisions against employers who are found to be liable.

Employer retaliation may take the form of:

  • You being demoted or passed over for promotions

  • Refusing to assign critical tasks or better shifts to you

  • Cutting your hours or assigning you a difficult schedule are both options

  • Leaving you out of crucial communications

  • Putting you on the back burner or assigning you to menial tasks

  • Tolerance or encouragement of bullying or abuse directed at you

  • Creating an adversarial working climate

  • Making it difficult or impossible for you to do your job

  • You are being pushed out in order for you to retire or resign

  • False information or rumors about you are being spread around the workplace

  • You're being fired (Wrongful Termination)

It's also unethical for your employer to discriminate against you based on any state or federal statute, in addition to violating public policy. If your employer retaliates against you for exercising your civil rights, you will have a case against them. To avoid retaliation at work, the employer should take the following steps:

  • Have a visible and open anti-retaliation policy for all workers.

  • Employees should be informed of the policy as well as the procedure for reporting retaliation.

  • Encourage all staff to report any issues they might be experiencing.

  • Take grievances seriously and act in a timely manner.

  • Conduct thorough investigations into allegations and take appropriate corrective measures.

  • Managers and other staff should be trained on how to react to prohibited activities.

  • Remind managers that revenge would have repercussions.

  • Employees who report wrongdoing should be aware of the possibility of retribution.

  • Whenever practicable, prevent retaliation from occurring or worsening.

  • If the employer knew or should have known about retaliation, they may be held liable for failing to avoid or react to it.

Wrongful Termination in California

In the state of California, employment is called "at-will," which means that an employee may be fired for any reason at the discretion, or at the will, of their employer. At-will employees are those who have not signed a contract with their employer or have worked for the organization for fewer than five years.

It is critical to your well-being to feel confident in your work and in your ability to provide for yourself and your family. In certain restricted circumstances, you will be able to sue your boss if you've been fired from your work. There are exceptions to the doctrine of employment at will, which is widely recognized as applicable in California.

It would not be lawful if your termination was based on your membership in a legally protected party. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit employers from discriminating against or terminating employees based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, pregnancy, or age.

Do You Have a Case for Wrongful Termination?

Aside from anti-discrimination clauses, you might have a case for unfair termination if you were dismissed for the following reasons:

  • You are a whistleblower

  • Using an employment or labor statute to assert the right to not be discriminated against or threatened

  • Taking a break to vote or work on a jury

  • Using the Family and Medical Leave Act to take time off

  • As a result of reporting sexual harassment, you can face retaliation

  • Serving in the military

You may have a case for unfair termination, whether you were fired officially or were compelled to resign due to intolerable working conditions or a hostile work climate. Constructive discharge is the term for this.

How Do I Prove Wrongful Termination?

Some cases of unfair termination are easier to understand than others. For instance, in cases of breach of contract, you can be fired for violating the terms of your employment contract.

Other examples, on the other hand, could be more difficult to confirm. Most employers would not tell you that you are being demoted or fired for unfair or illegal purposes. Some employers can also try to accuse you by making false allegations or reporting misleading performance data. They might try to hide their tracks by removing email or other documents records. They can lock you out of your own employee accounts, making it impossible for you to access them.

Your Employment Lawyer will assist you in conducting research and gathering evidence to back up your claim. However, it's a good idea to begin thinking about facts as soon as possible. It's also a good idea to write down everything you can, particularly if you're bringing up internal problems.

The following examples of evidence that could be used to prove Wrongful Termination:

  • Statements, correspondence, or records in writing

  • Reports on your work performance that demonstrate your positive work history

  • Witness testimony backs up verbal arguments

  • Patterns of actions or prejudice are examples of circumstantial proof

  • Observations on how other workers are handled at work

  • Any reports you sent to your bosses, human resources, or government agencies

  • Whether the retaliatory behavior occurred soon after the protected conduct

  • Any evidence or testimony that contradicts the boss's version of events is admissible

  • Evidence that the employer violated their own anti-retaliation laws, such as failing to launch a discrimination investigation

Keep a written record of any incidents you can, particularly if they include verbal interactions or microaggressions that are difficult to track and prove otherwise. If you can provide instances of real conduct, the proof would be even more convincing. Make sure you save proofs anywhere other than your office machine or email.

Request a copy of your personnel file as well as any performance reviews on your record if you are able.

One of the most difficult aspects of wrongful firing and retaliation litigation is proving intent. If you're an at-will employee, the boss might just as easily claim that they have some valid reason for their behavior. The more concrete proof you have to back up your argument, the better.

In California, there are several exceptions to employment-at-will

California is a little more progressive than many other states when it comes to defending a person's right to gainful employment by limiting wrongful dismissal, and it acknowledges three legal exceptions to the "at-will" doctrine:

  • The firing was made for reasons that were illegal under California law.

  • The dismissal of the employee violated an implicit employment contract, such as when an employer has made verbal or written promises of continued employment, such as in employment manuals, written policies, or other written communications.

  • In the employer-employee relationship, the employer broke an implicit bond of good faith and fair dealing. The good faith bond is open to interpretation, which opens the door to proving unjust termination for a dismissal that was either intentional or without fair cause.

With the help of an Employment Lawyer, you can protect your right to work

Wrongful Termination lawsuits can be difficult to prove. You should hire an experienced wrongful termination lawyer with extensive experience and thorough knowledge of both state and federal employment and civil rights laws, as well as familiarity with court decisions in cases similar to yours.

Gainful work is a fundamental human right and should not be revoked on the basis of a whim or prejudice. The right Employment Lawyer will defend a state's citizens' right to work in a non-hostile atmosphere without fear of losing their jobs for no cause. Employment protection is essential for a healthy and vibrant economy, and the right Employment Lawyer will fight for it if it is being denied to you unfairly.

Damages in Cases of Wrongful Termination

While punitive compensation can only go so far, damages are the law's way of "making you whole" – as though the wrongdoing against you never existed in the first place. A court can grant punitive damages to punish the employer in cases where the company's misbehavior is particularly bad. Punitive damages are intended to discourage wrongdoing.

Evidence is relevant not only for justifying your claim but also for assessing the number of damages you are entitled to. You must demonstrate to the court that you incurred real damages as a direct result of the wrongdoing, as well as the sum of those losses.

california wrongful termination

Retaliation or unfair termination damages may include:

  • Compensation for lost pay, earnings, unpaid salaries, overtime, or some other reason

  • Health and dental care, savings, retirement plans, stock options, and profit-sharing agreements are also examples of missed benefits

  • The price of searching for a new career

  • In the most serious cases of abuse, intimidation, or neglect, emotional distress or "pain and suffering" damages can be awarded

A jury normally decides on punitive damages. If you can prove that the wrongdoing was oppressive, dishonest, or malicious, you might be able to recover punitive damages. The sum will vary depending on the seriousness of the offense.

You will be able to recover attorney's fees from the employer in certain cases. The more evidence you have, the stronger your argument will be, and the more likely it will be that you will be victorious with your claims – and that your employer will settle.

Settlements in Wrongful Termination and Retaliation Lawsuits

Some cases of unfair firing and revenge go to trial. However, some of them result in agreements reached between you and your boss.

When negotiating a settlement with your employer, you can always have an experienced Employment Lawyer by your side. Based on the strength of your argument, your Employment Lawyer will help you set your goals. They will help you decide when it's best to hold out and when it's best to embrace. Never sign a settlement agreement without first consulting a Labor Law Attorney. You will be able to get a much better deal than the original settlement offer in certain situations.

Not all terms of the settlement are monetary. As part of the settlement, your employer could be required to give you your job back or provide you with a good reference.

Find A Labor Law Attorney in California

1000Attorneys.com can refer you to an experienced Employment Lawyer that can best handle your case. Referring clients with their best possible match makes sure that the case is handled in the best way it could be.

Submit your case by fulfilling this form or contacting us through our 24/7 live chat for an initial consultation.

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